President Donald Trump has formed a commission.
It’s not looking into shenanigans Russia is alleged to have engaged in during the election. It isn’t going to probe institutional racism in policing those responsible for extra-judicial killings of unarmed Blacks. It isn’t concerned with the impact of climate change. It isn’t planning on addressing the skyrocketing prison incarceration rate due to minor drug offenses. It has nothing to do with the influence of money in politics. It isn’t going to study the increase of hate crimes since Trump’s election, or claims about “illegal immigrants” causing crime rates to spike. It isn’t looking into gun violence either.
This commission is going to feed into Trump’s fiction about three to five-million illegal voters casting fraudulent ballots in November. Via a pool report, a White House official stated the commission will go beyond “reviewing alleged voter fraud & suppression:”
“The Commission will review policies and practices that enhance or undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of Federal elections — including improper registrations, improper voting, fraudulent registrations, fraudulent voting, and voting suppression.”
There are several issues with this so-called “commission,” though.
One is Trump’s obsession with “millions of people voting illegally” despite evidence to the contrary. Two is the officials asked to lead the commission: Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
With Pence as chair, we can almost guarantee anything the commission finds will echo Trump’s delusion. It is the presence of Kris Kobach that is most troubling.
Kris Kobach engineered scores of voter suppression laws and proposals courts struck down, including a proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration in Kansas. At one point, he was threatened to be held in contempt-of-court for allegedly refusing to comply with a court order against it. He also helped craft Arizona’s SB 1070, aka “show me your papers” law. While at the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, he created the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which functioned as a registry for Muslim men entering the U.S. After Trump was elected, Kobach floated the idea of revising the program.
Arguably the most insidious high-tech voter suppression scheme Republican-led states are practicing today is Kris Kobach’s “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program.”
In 2013, Kobach boasted his Crosscheck system uncovered 697,537 “potential duplicate voters” in fifteen states. Those “potential duplicate voters” are listed by first and last names only on the supposition they are running around from state to state on election day casting multiple ballots. Everyone with that first and last name is kicked off subsequent nationwide voter roles irrespective of other identifying information, such as Social Security numbers, addresses, or birth dates.
“The Crosscheck list disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters – with some of the biggest possible purges underway in Ohio and North Carolina, two crucial swing states with tight Senate races.”
For example, Donald Alexander Webster Jr., of Dayton, Ohio appears on the Crosscheck list a second time as Donald Eugene Webster from Charlottesville, Virginia. James Evans Johnson is listed the same as James P. Johnson. Palast reports one-fourth of the names on the list actually lack middle-name matches. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. Hundreds of men named “James Brown” are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone.
Database expert Mark Swedlund examined the Crosscheck data. He found African-American, Latino, and Asian names dominate the Crosscheck list. With the name “Washington,” there is an 89% chance a person is African-American; “Hernandez,” a 94% chance he or she is Hispanic; “Kim,” a 95% chance he or she is Asian.
According to The Washington Post:
“Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt looked at 14 years of voting and found 31 possible incidents of in-person voter fraud, comprised of approximately 241 fraudulent ballots…The most significant chunk of those 241 are from 145 ballots that were cast between 2008 and 2011 in Michigan, where names, dates of birth and addresses of people who cast ballots matched those of people who’d died…It’s not clear if that’s because someone had been signed in incorrectly at the polling place or if there had been some other clerical error.”
A federal conviction for voting illegally can result in five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for each fraudulent act. Most states have their own additional penalties as well. Logically, if an individual is bent on crime, it is unlikely he or she would perpetrate it through voting more than once.
Donald Trump’s commission appears to have all the makings of another smoke screen designed to fool the American people into believing the administration is doing something beneficial for the country. In fact, it’s nothing more than a red herring to distract resources and attention from the high crimes and misdemeanors Trump will eventually be found guilty of committing.
Featured image from YouTube video.